Tourism in Goa, after swimming through shores of worry, is basking in the sunshine of happy days and, with a few tweaks within the industry, could be looking for even better periods ahead as the 2023-2024 season rests on its last leg.
“We have not just survived, but done good. Flights have been full and there has been an increase in the number of British tourists. The number of Russian tourists has also increased, and hence, there are no reasons to complain,” proprietor of Trail Blazers, Orlando Nunes, smiles as he speaks to Gomantak Times Digital.
From two flights per week last season to four flights this season, and all full, Orlando and his team foresee a better season. “We were worried initially, but are now pretty confident of the next season,” says an exuberant Nunes.
Before the season could take off, there was apprehension regarding how the delay in the opening of shacks, the levels of noise pollution and the chaos on roads would affect tourism, but none of this seems to have bothered the foreign visitors much.
“Room allocation (by hotels) has decreased, and that gave us fewer options of selling rooms to our guests. Also, rooms in high-end hotels were too pricey, but we expect hotels to have a re-think,” says Nunes.
Sources in the industry are of the opinion that most hotels will decrease their rates for the forthcoming season as most were roughly at 60 per cent occupancy in December 2023 as Indian tourists opted for other destinations.
“Hotels in Goa increased their prices tenfold during December (2023). Their prices went through the roof, and Indian guests were getting better deals in other Asian countries. They are bound to realise their mistakes and make amends,” chipped in Doreen.
Many shack owners seemed to have forgotten the woes of starting late in the season with the enthusiasm of English tourists giving them the extra smile.
“I started late, but we have the English back and I am happy to meet old friends and am making a decent earning,” stated Alirio, who runs a shack between the Candolim-Calangute stretch.
Tourists from Britain mostly stay in the Candolim, Calangute, Baga in the north and Benaulim in the south, with Russians opting for the stretch from Morjim to Arambol in the north.
“The luxury hotels in South Goa were too expensive for guests coming to stay for over two weeks. Indians can afford to spend upwards of Rs 8,000 for two days, but it becomes too much when a guest is staying for two weeks,” stated an executive from an agency.
Rooms, close to the Arambol sweet water lake, are available for as little as Rs 500 a day, and the more expensive ones fall within the range of Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 per day.
“The English and Russians have been our mainstay during this season and we expect to see a bigger number of tourists from Britain next season, and that is why we are hoping hotels will give us more allocation (of rooms) next season,” said Orlando with an air of positivity.
Peter Coals, a British tourist, packing some tea to take back home, says, “We mostly frequent the old places that still do exist with the same owners, and try the new ones, and are happy, though the prices have increased a bit, but the quality of food and service is excellent.”
With the international tourism season set to start ebbing by March, and Indian tourists opting for cheaper vacations in Asia, tourism stakeholders in Goa are prepared to redo the math for an even more profitable 2024-2025 season.